Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation and the University of Michigan’s preliminary February reporting on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Inflation Rises as Fed Considers Raising Key Rate
The government’s Consumer Price Index for January reported that month-to-month inflation rose by 0.60 percent as compared to an expected increase of 0.40 percent which was based on December’s month-to-month increase of 0.50 percent. Year-over-year inflation rose to a rate of 7.50 percent, which was the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, also rose 0.60 percent in January from December’s reading of 5.50 percent.
Analysts said that the Federal Reserve will likely raise its key federal funds rate range to help slow inflation, but drastic dips in the inflation rate aren’t expected. While the Fed predicted inflation to ease in a statement made last December, inflation has only increased. The Fed’s strategy of raising interest rates would ease high consumer demand and help slow rapidly rising prices for housing, goods, and services.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims and Consumer Sentiment Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 14 basis points to 3.69 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 16 basis points to 2.93 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and nine basis points higher. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
223,000 new jobless claims were filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 239,000 first-time claims filed. No information for continuing jobless claims was released last week.
The University of Michigan reported a preliminary index reading of 61.7 for January’s Consumer Sentiment Index. This was the lowest consumer sentiment reading in ten years and was attributed to consumer concerns over rising inflation.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions, Commerce Department readings on building permits issued, and housing starts. Data on sales of pre-owned homes will be released along with weekly reporting on mortgage rates and jobless claims.